Saturday, July 18, 2015

There is a great interview of Olympic diver Tom Daley in The Guardian today.  In addition to talking about his grueling training schedule Daley talks about coming out and the fact that he "always knew he was attracted to guys."  It is something that I believe that every gay male knows from a fairly early age even if, like myself, we try to deny it to ourselves, seek to explain it away through mental gymnastics, and go to great lengths in self-deception before admitting the truth.  Finally accepting one self and the reality of who you are attracted to and love is such a liberating experience.  Word truly do not adequately describe the phenomenon.  Here are highlights from the interview:

“I think I’m diving as well as I am now because of Jane, and because of Lance.”

In March 2013, Daley went for dinner at a friend’s home in Los Angeles and met Dustin Lance Black, a screenwriter 20 years his senior who won an Oscar for Milk, the biopic of gay rights campaigner Harvey Milk. Daley says it was love at first sight. Until then, his only relationships had been with girls, but he had never been in love. Had he thought he might be gay? “I guess it has always been in the back of my head, but you never really know. I’d never had feelings for a person along those lines. I’d been in relationships with girls where I’d had sexual feelings, but it became so much more intense when I met Lance. I thought, ‘Whoa, this is weird. Why am I having these feelings for somebody?’”

Did that freak him out? He nods. “It freaked me a little bit initially, but then it was like, ‘OK, this makes sense’. Lots of things started to make sense.”  Is this his first relationship…? He cuts me off before I can finish the question.  “With a guy? Yes.”

Does he think he’s unusual in discovering his sexuality so late? Well, he says, it’s more complicated than that. “I always knew that I had that attraction to guys, but I just thought that was a usual thing, being attracted to guys and girls. It was only when I met Lance I started having such strong feelings.”

Did Black encourage him to come out? “Yes, he was supportive, but it never got to a point where he said, ‘You should do something about coming out.’ He was just always there, supportive. At no point was he at all pushy.”

Did he discuss coming out with his mother? “Oh yes. My mum had known for six months, and so had my friends. Mum was like, ‘Whatever makes you happy, I’m completely OK with.’” It couldn’t have been more different from the reaction from Black’s family. “He was Mormon, so homosexuals were put in the same group as serial killers.”

Daley says he was unsure how, and whether, to come out publicly right until the last moment. “I thought, should I just not say anything and get caught out, which would be horrible?” And would he have regarded it as getting caught out? “It was more a case of, ‘Oh screw it. I don’t care what people think. I’ll do my own thing. I can still dive, I can still do what I want to do.’ Then I was thinking I could do a newspaper interview, but you wouldn’t want somebody to twist your words. You could do a TV interview, but you don’t want to be asked questions you don’t want to answer. So I just said exactly what I was comfortable with saying at the time. And nothing could be twisted.”

Was there anybody directing him when he made his video? “No, I did it on my phone. I was the only one in the room. That was the way I talk to people anyway, through my YouTube channel.”

How did he feel once the video was out? “It was a massive weight lifted off my shoulders. I was terrified before. And then when it finally happened I was like, great, I don’t need to worry about it any more, people know, who cares, whatever…”

I am happy for Daley and for Lance Black.  Having met his three different times, he's not only beautiful in person, but also one of the nicest unassuming guys  one could ever meet.  I think him profusely for all his work in bringing same ex marriage nationwide. 

Congressional Republicans Setting Sights on Same-Sex Marriage Law

With all of the problems facing America one would think that pandering and self-prostituting one self to hate filled religious extremists would be far down the priority list.  But not so with Congressional Republicans who seem to have their sights set on passing some form of license to discriminate law to pander to knucle dragging, spittle flecked Christofascists.  Never mind that the effort is an affront to the concept of religious freedom envisioned by the Founding Fathers.  Nope, it's all about granting special rights to a class of people who reject science, equality, and modernity itself.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the GOP forces of darkness at work.  Here are excerpts:
Legislation granting protections for tax-exempt organizations and individuals objecting to same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds is gathering momentum in the House. The bills, drafted by Representative Raúl R. Labrador, Republican of Idaho, and Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, already have 130 co-sponsors. On Thursday, the Republican Study Committee, the largest, most organized group of conservatives in the House, demanded a vote.

“All religious Americans deserve assurance that they can carry out their conscience without a federal government crackdown,” said Representative Bill Flores, Republican of Texas and the committee’s chairman.

At the same time, wary Republican moderates have quietly drafted a novel alternative that would actually expand legal protections for gay men and lesbians. Their legislation would narrow the scope of protection offered to groups declining services to same-sex couples seeking to marry.

The brewing dispute is coming at a delicate time for the Republican Party. Donald J. Trump, the billionaire businessman seeking the Republican nomination for president, has stirred up Hispanic voters with the anti-Mexican and illegal immigration diatribes he has delivered since beginning his campaign.

Republican leaders have found themselves once again caught in a wedge between the conservative sentiments of the majority of their conference and the more liberal social trends in the nation at large. Asked about the First Amendment Defense Act, which is the name of the bill to protect tax-exempt organizations and individuals objecting to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio on Thursday was careful not to dismiss it even as he declined to embrace it.

The bill proposed by moderates, though, would attach two provisions expanding protections long-sought by gay rights groups: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which outlaws workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, and an amendment to the federal Fair Housing Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics of housing seekers.

“This opens up a can of worms, and Congress needs to show it can do two things at once: protect religious freedoms and provide legal protections for nondiscrimination,” Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, said Friday.

Mr. Dent told his colleagues in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday that they were risking the same protests from business leaders and other gay rights supporters that Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana prompted in March when he signed legislation allowing businesses to refuse services to same-sex couples.

His appeal was greeted with silence, he said, but “the message was delivered.”  “I would really hate to see the Indiana nightmare turn into a national debacle,” he said.

At the same time, Republican leaders made it clear they saw a need for a legislative response to the court’s action. Without legal protection, Republicans fear religious broadcasters could lose their federal licenses if they do not grant same-sex marriage benefits to employees. Faith-based charities like World Vision, which rely on government grants, could face pressure . . 

“The right to believe is fundamental. The right to use taxpayer dollars to discriminate is not,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, said Friday.

The moderate Republican alternative would draw religious protections narrowly, ensuring that they shielded religious nonprofit organizations from threats to their tax-exempt status and other federal benefits because of their adherence to heterosexual marriage, according to a one-page description of the legislation circulating in the House.

HRC has it right: if these organizations want to discriminate, they have a simple option - stop taking taxpayer money.   If their operations cannot survive without government funding, then so be it. 

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Donald Trump Continues to Bode Ill for the GOP

While no one seems to seriously believe that Donald Trump will be the eventual GOP presidential nominee, there seems to be agreement that his candidacy is bad for the GOP brand because it is showcasing just how ugly and extreme the racist, Christofascist leaning GOP base has become. Then too, there is the prospect of the bombastic trump on the debate stage where there's no telling what batshitery he will let loose or what kind of craziness he will prompt from others on the debate stage.  As noted frequently on this blog, for years now the GOP has cynically courted crazies and extremists and the resulting Frankenstein monster can no longer be controlled by the self-styled GOP establishment.  NBC News looks at Trump's rise in the polls and what it is revealing about the GOP brand.  Here are highlights:

It seems inevitable that Donald Trump’s standing in national polls will fade, but for now, that shift remains on the horizon. Politico reported overnight on the new Fox News poll:
Donald Trump leads all Republican presidential candidates for the GOP primary, according to a new Fox national poll of registered voters released Thursday.
Eighteen percent of GOP voters said they supported Trump, up 7 percent from last month and 15 percent from March.
Trailing Trump’s 18% support is Scott Walker, who’s in second with 15%, and Jeb Bush with 14%. No other candidate reached double digits in the Fox poll.
[T]he significance of polls like these is not in their predictive value – the results shed little light on who’s likely to win the Republicans’ presidential nomination – but this year, national surveys will dictate who participates in televised debates, making the polls more important than they’ve ever been.
And in this specific poll, that’s not all. Consider this question Fox asked respondents:
“Recently, presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He said Mexico is quote, ‘sending people that have lots of problems…. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.’ Setting aside how Trump worded his comments, do you think he’s basically right on this, or not?”
A total of 70% of Republican voters said they believe Trump’s racially charged rhetoric is correct. That’s not a typo – seven in 10.
There are some ugly attitudes that have pushed Trump to the top of the crowded GOP field, and Republican officials have to come to terms with that.
Personally, I can't wait to watch Trump in the first debate and to see what kind of mayhem he ignites. :)

Virginia GOP Insanity: Cuccinelli Favored for 2017 Gubernatorial Race

If Congressional Republicans and would be presidential nominees are sipping fantasy inducing Kool-Aid, here in Virginia, the Virginia Republicans are drinking it by the gallons.  How else to explain a poll that shows that Ken "Kookinelli"  Cuccinelli is the favorite of Virginia Republicans for the 2017 gubernatorial race.  Did these people learn nothing in 2013?  If Cuccinelli was too extreme - OK, down right crazy - to win in 2013, do this folks think four years later with even more demographic change in the state he has a chance in hell of winning?  The poll underscores just how insane the Virginia GOP has become.  A piece in the Daily Press looks at the mind numbing poll results.  Here are highlights:
Ken Cuccinelli lost the race for Virginia governor in 2013, but a poll released Friday shows he still registers strongly among Republican voters.
Public Policy Polling released a poll showing Cuccinelli was favored by 37 percent of Republican voters as the 2017 gubernatorial nominee, as compared to 16 percent for former U.S. House Majority leader Eric Cantor. Bill Bolling and Ed Gillespie tie for third at 8 percent, and Shenandoah Valley Sen. Mark Obenshain registered at 7 percent.
While the poll results could be considered a victory for Cuccinelli, a political expert said the results reflect something else.
"It shows how very, very conservative the Virginia Republican Party is. It is fractured, very fractured,'' said James Madison University political scientist Bob Roberts.
Roberts said the poll reflects Cuccinelli's base of support, and also shows that more than 50 percent of those polled did not favor him. Roberts said establishment Republicans are showing their support for the others who registered -- Cantor, Bolling, Gillespie and Obenshain.
If he does run for governor, Cuccinelli will do well with tea party and conservative voters, and will continue to struggle with Republican women voters and moderate Republican voters, Roberts said.
A key in the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial race will be turnout, Roberts said. He said committed voters have recently participated in gubernatorial elections, and getting those voters out is a key in 2017.

Cuccinelli belongs in a mental ward. 

The GOP's War Mongering

Having apparently learned absolutely nothing from the fiascoes in Afghanistan and Iraq launched by a similar detachment from reality and insane belief that America can impose its will on other nations, the Republicans are lamenting the agreement negotiated with Iran and condemning it as appeasement and all sorts of other negative descriptions.  Their alternative?  There is none other that ultimately war.  A war that anyone sane ought to know America cannot win based on the examples of the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Is the Iran deal perfect?  Of course not, but again, what is the alternative?   A column in the New York Times looks at the GOP's insane war mongering.  Here are excerpts:
So what do the critics, from Republican presidential hopefuls to the Israeli government, seek in place of the deal with Iran that verifiably blocks Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 to 15 years? Presumably, they want what would have happened if negotiations had collapsed. That would be renewed war talk as an unconstrained Iran installs sophisticated centrifuges, its stockpile of enriched uranium grows, Russia and China abandon the sanctions regime, moderates in Iran like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are sidelined, and a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic draws closer.
To favor such peril, when a constructive alternative exists that engages one of the most highly educated societies in the Middle East, amounts to foolishness dressed up as machismo.

The Iran nuclear deal is not perfect, nor was it ever intended to address the long list of American-Iranian grievances, which will persist. It must be judged on what it set out to do — stop Iran going nuclear — not on whether Iran has a likeable regime (it does not) or does bad things (it does). President Obama did not set out to change Iran but he has created a framework that, over a decade, might.
If implemented, the agreement constitutes the most remarkable American diplomatic achievement since the Dayton Accords put an end to the Bosnian war two decades ago. It increases the distance between Iran and a bomb as it reduces the distance between Iran and the world. It makes the Middle East less dangerous by forestalling proliferation. In a cacophonous age of short-termism, it offers a lesson of stubborn leadership in pursuit of a long-term goal.

Iran had been increasing its operating centrifuges and the size and enrichment level of its uranium stockpile. Now, the number of centrifuges is to be slashed by two-thirds to 5,060; the stockpile is to be all but eliminated; enrichment levels are capped at 3.7 percent, a long way from bomb grade; the potential route to weapons-grade plutonium at Arak is disabled; international inspection is redoubled and, in Obama’s words, will extend “where necessary,” “when necessary.” In return, Iran gets the phased elimination of most sanctions, the end to its pariah status, and a windfall that will alleviate its economic crisis.

And this is “one of the darkest days in world history”? No, it is a moment for guarded hope.

Iran is finely poised between a tough old guard forged in revolution and its aspirational, Westward-looking youth. A decade is a long time in societies in transition. It is far better to have deep American-Iranian differences — over Hezbollah, over Syria, over regional Shiite irredentism, over Iran’s vile anti-Israel outbursts — addressed through dialogue rather than have Iran do its worst as pariah.

This accord has the merit of condemning the United States and Tehran to a relationship — however hostile — over the next 15 years. The Middle East, several of its states irremediably fractured, needs a new security framework. This will take years. But to imagine it could ever be fashioned without Iran’s involvement is fantasy. Meanwhile, the West and Iran have a common enemy: the medieval slaughterers of Islamic State.

Strict verification is imperative. But Congress should think twice before the feel-good, reckless adoption of a resolution condemning a deal that advances American interests. Obama would veto it, and almost certainly has the votes to resist an override, but this would be a regrettable way for the nation to assume such a ground-shifting agreement. 

Israel, too, should ask the hard questions rather than dismiss a deal that puts Iran much further from a bomb, empowers Iranian reformists, locks in American-Iranian dialogue and will be leveraged by Netanyahu to secure more advanced American weapons systems. The darkest days in history for the Jewish people were of an altogether different order. They should never be trivialized.
The Republicans ranting against the Iran agreement need to study some history and demographic facts.  Unlike Iraq which was a made up nation thanks to the French and British in the aftermath of World War I, Iran is an ancient nation/culture that had a glorious past many centuries before America was even discovered.  It has more than twice the population of Afghanistan and Iraq combined.  Moreover, much of the population is well educated.  These aren't the ignorant "rag heads" that the Christofascists like to see slaughtered. Short of decades of war and a full blown occupation - and we've seen how well that worked in Iraq - with trillions of dollars spent and god knows how many American lives lost, America cannot impose its will on Iran.  We need to realize that there are very real limits to what our military power can do.  This agreement deserves a chance to succeed.  The GOP's embrace of ignorance and military fantasies need to be rejected.

"Ex-Gay" Therapy is Often Child Abuse

Time and time again we sadly see articles about children dying because their parents denied them proper medical care due to "religious belief" that either disapproved of a needed type of treatment or because the parents believed they could pray away the illness.  To my view, such behavior is tantamount to murder.  It is also child abuse.  It is far past time that parents that use claims of religious belief to harm their children lose custody of their children.  It is also time that less overtly life threatening actions toward children based on professed religious belief be seen for what they are: child abuse.  A case in point?  "Ex-gay" therapy where ignorant, delusional parents (many of who are most worried about what fellow church members will think of them) submit their children children to this discredited and dangerous "therapy."  While now illegal in California and New Jersey, ex-gay programs for those under age 18 need to be illegal nationwide.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at the need for federal legislation to prevent this form of child abuse.  Here are highlights:
The voices of young people aren't often heard at the Capitol. And if you're a teenager sent to a boot camp, so-called "therapeutic" boarding school or behavior modification program, it's certain your voice won't be heard because you'll be cut off from all contact with your family and the outside world.

So we are here today for those youth whose voices have been silenced. We're here today for the parents who have been duped into believing these programs would really help their children. And we're here to demand action on behalf of the hundreds of young people who have actually died--as well as the thousands who suffer long-term trauma--because of the abuse they endured while in unregulated institutions that masquerade as legitimate treatment programs.

LGBT kids are particularly vulnerable. Even in states like California that have outlawed the dangerous and discredited practice of gay conversion therapy, there are residential programs that consider LGBT kids to be troubled--and in need of "fixing"--simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition to enduring the same horrible abuses as other youth, LGBT kids face additional levels of abuse that don't stop until staff believe they're no longer LGBT. No child can be "scared straight" and none should suffer damaging and sometimes fatal attempts to change who they are.

It's long past time for Congress to pass sensible legislation to regulate this rogue, multi-million dollar industry that's profiting from the abuse of young people.
I applaud the leadership of Representatives Schiff and Ros-Lehtinen for crossing the aisle to promote the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Treatment Programs for Teens Act--a law that would protect kids from unsafe programs. They understand that the health and well-being of young people is not a partisan issue. It isn't a partisan issue in California, where today our state Assembly is considering similar legislation that received nearly unanimous bipartisan support from our state senate. And it certainly shouldn't be a partisan issue in our nation's capitol. I urge the rest of the House to take action to pass the Act and stop this abuse before it's too late for any other youth.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Morning Male Beauty

model Austin Victoria

Is Jeb Bush Trying to Have it Both Ways on Gay Rights?

Perhaps having anticipated the severe blow back that Scott Walker brought down on himself with his remarks that the soon to be defunct Boy Scouts of America ban on gay leaders "protected children" from gay predators, Jeb "Jebbie" Bush seems to be trying to play it both ways on gay rights and has seemingly said that he supports the passage of state employment non-discrimination laws to protect LGBT individuals.  No doubt leaders of hate groups like Tony Perkins of FRC and Victoria Cobb of The Family Foundation and rabid anti-gay Republicans in Virginia must be blowing gaskets over Bush's remarks.  Despite how much I detest Jebbie, he apparently seems to understand that totally prostituting himself to the Christofascists to win in primaries in states such as Iowa could mean he's DOA in the general election.  Time looks at Jebbies fast dancing and possible double speak on this issue.  Here are highlights:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush indicated Thursday that he thinks existing laws sufficient to ensure men and women are paid equally for the same work, but that he would back legislation in the states to prevent workplace and housing discrimination against LGBT Americans.

An employee who identified himself to Bush as being gay asked about Bush’s position on legislation to ban discrimination of LGBT Americans. “I don’t think you should be discriminated because of your sexual orientation. Period. Over and out,” he replied.

Citing the frequently-used example by religious freedom advocates, Bush said that in the case of a florist approached by a gay couple, “you should be obligated to sell them flowers, doing otherwise would be discriminatory.” But he said that the objecting florist should not be required to participate in the wedding, a fine line that he hopes will appeal to all sides of the debate.

When the employee followed up to ask specifically whether he would support anti-discrimination laws for LGBT Americans for their housing and employment—the next target for gay rights marriage advocates—Bush said he would at the state level.  “I think this should be done state-by-state, I totally agree with that,” he said.

It will be interesting to watch the "godly folk" go berserk over any suggestion that they should not have the special right to discriminate against and abuse LGBT individuals.  Jebbie best fasten his seat belt.

National Catholic Reporter: Church Must Stop Divisive Anti-Gay Foot Stomping

With the massive defeat it experienced in Ireland and now with the same sex marriage ruling by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, one would think that the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy would see the hand writing on the wall: either stop the anti-gay hysteria that the sky is falling and angry foot stomping or else become even more irrelevant in the world, especially in the educated western world. Many of the high clergy - many of whom I suspect are self-loathing closet cases who don't want to admit that they have squandered their lives following 13th century understandings of sexuality - are not getting this message.  A main editorial in the National Catholic Reporter (which is not under the control of the hierarchy) makes the case why a changed approach to gays and gay marriage (among other issues) is needed.  It's a message lost on Francis Xavier DiLorenzo,the bishop of the Diocese of Richmond who still bars divorced teachers from working at Catholic schools even if they are the best qualified. Here are some excerpts:
The Catholic church, which has used some of the most severe language of major denominations in its condemnation of homosexuality, labeling those with a homosexual orientation "intrinsically disordered," is especially challenged by the ruling.

At least its leaders are, for it has become clear in recent years that when it comes to believers, Catholics are among the most accepting of homosexuality. In terms of same-sex marriage, according to recent Pew Research polling, "Among Catholics and white mainline Protestants, roughly six-in-ten now express support for same-sex marriage."

Churches certainly don't run on polling data, but the bishops should at least be informed of what the flock is thinking. And the majority of the flock is not in agreement with assertions such as those voiced by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., who called the decision "a tragic error."

Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, compared Obergefell v. Hodges to Roe v. Wade . . .

The comparison with Roe is simply way off base. Obergefell is not a matter of life and death. The case thus stated by Kurtz also places the conference in the posture of combatant -- with everyone: gays and lesbians, their families, government structures, not to mention the church itself in the expression of the many Catholics who disagree.

Further, if the church's experience with Roe is any indication, taking the combative approach will mean endless years of litigation and lobbying, convincing few and alienating many while further depleting whatever political capital the church might have left. 

These complex matters will demand more of the bishops than a foot-stomping "no." . . . a combative stance is not the only option. First, the church's treatment of divorced and remarried people is an apt comparison to gay couples. Divorce and remarriage is legal in all states, but the church is not required to perform such weddings. Ministers remain free to denounce divorce. At the same time, it is rare that Catholic institutions fire people who divorce and remarry; moreover, they and their new spouses often receive benefits. Such consideration is not viewed as an endorsement of a lifestyle.

Further, Reese points out, "In Catholic morality, there is nothing to prohibit a Catholic judge or clerk from performing a same-sex marriage. Nor is there any moral obligation for a Catholic businessperson to refuse to provide flowers, food, space and other services to a same-sex wedding." Bishops, even those intent on railing against the decision, need to make that point clear to their people.

[B]ishops and others should not underestimate the power of human experience nor the depth of insights gleaned in the short period during which parents stopped being embarrassed by their children, and gay children stopped hiding themselves and their sexual orientation.

Cupich's "take a deep breath" approach seems a far more productive way to sort out the tangle of issues that certainly will unravel in the wake of this decision. The bishops -- many of whom like to compare themselves to fathers of a family -- might, before they commit to a protracted fight, sit down with gay and lesbian Catholics and their families and respectfully listen to their stories.

Meanwhile, we need to call a halt to actions that will further divide and damage the body of Christ. 

What we must avoid at all costs is a spate of firings of Catholic high school track coaches and math teachers. We can respect a narrow definition of the ministerial exemption out of respect for religious belief, but the broadening of the definition of "minister" to include schoolteachers, food pantry workers, diocesan accountants and parish musicians is wrong and must be resisted.
The editorial authors clearly understand the concept of "change or die."

EEOC: Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation Barred Under Existing Law

In what may proved to be a huge ruling, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that existing law and regulations bar employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.  In states like Virginia which remain anti-gay in many ways (e.g., no express state law employment protections, special privileges for anti-gay adoption agencies, and no fair housing protections), this could have a huge impact on members of the LGBT community who find themselves fired from jobs because their very existence offends the foul sensibilities of the "godly folk."  Personally, I have long argued that since anti-gay discrimination is based on religion, existing laws should protect LGBT individuals.  The Virginia Supreme Court, consistent with its track record of trying to stay a century behind the rest of the country would hear nothing of that argument when I represent Michael Moore who was fired by the Virginia Museum of Natural History by a bigoted executive director.  BuzzFeed looks at this important ruling.  Here are highlights:
WASHINGTON — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that existing civil rights law bars sexual orientation-based employment discrimination — a groundbreaking decision to advance legal protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers.

“[A]llegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex,” the commission concluded in a decision dated July 15.

The independent commission addressed the question of whether the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars anti-LGB discrimination in a complaint brought by a Florida-based air traffic control specialist against Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx.

The ruling — approved by a 3-2 vote of the five-person commission — applies to federal employees’ claims directly, but it also applies to the entire EEOC, which includes its offices across the nation that take and investigate claims of discrimination in private employment.

While only the Supreme Court could issue a definitive ruling on the interpretation, EEOC decisions are given significant deference by federal courts.

In December 2014, the Justice Department announced a similar view of the law — stating that it would apply that interpretation in its cases.

While the EEOC had been pushing toward today’s decision with cases and even field guidance addressing coverage under Title VII of specific types of discrimination faced by gay people, the July 15 decision states that “sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration.’”

“[T]he question is not whether sexual orientation is explicitly listed in Title VII as a prohibited basis for employment actions. It is not,” the commission found. Instead, the commission stated that the question is the same as in any other Title VII sex discrimination case: “whether the agency has ‘relied on sex-based considerations’ or ‘take[n] gender into account’ when taking the challenged employment action.”

The commission found that sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination for several reasons. Among the reasons, the commission stated, is because sexual orientation discrimination “necessarily entails treating an employee less favorably because of the employee’s sex” and “because it is associational discrimination on the basis of sex.”

“We therefore conclude that Complainant’s allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex. We further conclude that allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex.”
Expect more wailing and spittle flecked rants from the Christofascists as their power to abuse those who reject their hate and fear based beliefs shrinks yet again.   Kudos to the EEOC.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Obama: Only Alternative to a Nuclear Deal with Iran is War

With virtually every important issue facing the nation, today's Republican Party attacks whatever Obama and the Democrats propose, but have no serious alternatives that (i) have a chance in hell of being enacted, and/or (ii) of actually fixing the problem.   The latest issue to join this list of issues is the newly announce nuclear deal with Iran.  Republicans are falling all over themselves to condemn the agreement and seeking to scuttle the deal.  There alternative? None other than ultimately war with Iran. The majority of the American public wants nothing to do with a new Middle East war, especially since the fool's errands launched by Bush/Cheney have been such losing disasters.  But for the GOP, war is enticing: (a) the Christofascists relish the thought of killing more Muslims, and (b) GOP defense contractor donors will make another financial killing even as thousands of young Americans will likely forfeit their lives.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at Obama's calling out of the GOP on this reality.  Here are highlights:
President Obama’s defense of the complex and painstakingly negotiated nuclear deal that his administration reached with Iran boiled down to a simple, if controversial, contention: The only real alternative to the deal was war.

Obama returned to that conclusion repeatedly Wednesday at a news conference that stretched for more than one hour.

“Without a deal,” he said in his opening statement, “we risk even more war in the Middle East.”

A few minutes later, in response to a reporter’s question, Obama dismissed concerns that the House and Senate might vote down the deal, forcing him to use his presidential veto. Wouldn’t a rejection of the deal by lawmakers make him question its wisdom?

“Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it’s resolved through force, through war,” Obama countered. “Those are — those are the options.”

“If the alternative is that we should bring Iran to heel through military force, then those critics should say so. And that will be an honest debate.”

The president’s news conference in the White House’s East Room came a day after his negotiators concluded contentious marathon talks with Iran. The deal they reached to limit Iran’s nuclear enrichment program — more than six years in the making — was swiftly condemned by virtually every major Republican presidential candidate.

Obama’s defense of the deal wasn’t designed to win over dug-in critics, whom he dismissed as illogical and unrealistic. His audience was an American public worried about the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran but also exhausted by more than 14 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama has speculated in recent weeks that the nuclear deal could empower moderates in Iran who are eager for better relations with the rest of the world. “What I’d say to them is this offers a historic opportunity,” he told the New York Times in an interview Tuesday.

Obama hit on almost all the major criticisms of the deal during the news conference.

Republicans have criticized the deal for allowing Iran as many as 24 days before it grants inspectors access to military sites that could house covert programs. The delay could give Iran enough time to conceal illegal activity, critics said. Obama dismissed the charges as unrealistic and not grounded in science.

“This is not something you hide in a closet,” Obama said of the centrifuges and other sensitive equipment needed to make weapons-grade uranium. “This is not something you put on a dolly and kind of wheel off somewhere.”

Even if the Iranians had moved nuclear material from the site, Obama said, inspectors would find it. “Your high school physics will remind us that leaves a trace,” he said. “And so we’ll know, in fact, there was a violation of the agreement.”

He countered that the inspections would still be in place 20 years from now. So, too, would Iran’s Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments. Iran would be about one year away from developing enough fuel for a nuclear bomb — a longer time frame than its current two to three months.

Yet another worry is that the lifting of tough economic sanctions on Iran would provide it with as much as $150 billion in revenue. Some of that money would be spent on infrastructure and the Iranian people. Some of it, critics say, would go to the likes of Hezbollah, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iraqi militias that not long ago were killing Americans.

Here Obama suggested that the deal was better than any alternative. If negotiations broke down, Obama said, the United States would maintain tough sanctions but many of its partners, eager to do business with Iran, would drop them.

There is more, so read the entire piece.   I nearly lost a son-in-law in Afghanistan.  He was badly wounded but survived.  Thousands did not.  I am against throwing away more lives and billions of dollars.   Let the GOP war mongers all enlist in the military or have their children do so.  I suspect their war fever would quickly abate.

The Supreme Court Didn't Cure Republicans of Homophobia

As we see clerk's of court refusing to perform their duties and politicians - always Republicans - condemning gays and same sex marriage we continue to see hate and bigotry fueled by religion and a desperation on the part of Christofascists to impose their ugly religious beliefs on all.  Sadly, Republicans are only too happy to prostitute themselves to such selfish, self-centered, nasty individuals who have become a cancer within the Republican Party base.  Unless and until this ugly element is driven from the GOP, we can expect more homophobia and the dissemination of anti-gay lies.  A piece in The New Republic looks at the homophobia that continues to grip the GOP.  Here are excerpts:

It’s tempting to imagine that the abrupt end to the fight for marriage equality will ultimately prove to be a godsend for frustrated Republicans. Same-sex marriage enjoys the backing of a huge, youthful political movement, and, before the Supreme Court made it legal nationwide, it was becoming the kind of issue that could seal a politician’s fate with a huge swath of voters. In settling the debate by fiat, the Court might also have saved Republicans from having to wage the alienating opposition to marriage equality for several more years.

Though the Court had the power to end that fight mercifully, it could do nothing about the fact that many conservatives opposed marriage equality because they believe gays and lesbians are inherently defective . . . 

If you believe that banning gay people from Boy Scouts “protects children,” then you either believe discredited caricatures of gay men as child predators or you believe homosexuality and homosexuals are unsavory things that children should be “protected” from categorically, like drug addiction or verbal abuse.

The movement to make the Boy Scouts a more tolerant organization may not be as large or public facing as the movement to force states to recognize same-sex marriages. But it’s still a big staging ground for the more diffuse fight over how our society should treat gays and lesbians generally. And because the question at hand doesn’t touch on the nature of the Boy Scouts as an institution, it’s much harder for conservatives to disguise deprecatory views of LGBT people themselves behind an alleged concern for institutional continuity.

Which is all to say, Republican politicians will still have plenty of opportunities to treat gays and lesbians like aberrant miscreants. . . . the issue won’t disappear anytime soon.
Sadly, the author is correct - the issue of Republicans demonizing gays will not go away anytime soon.  Not until more of the population walks away from religion and being anti-gay becomes a sure fire loser in general elections.   That tipping point is getting closer, but we are not there yet - or anywhere close in red states.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Scott Walker Rushes to "Clarify" of His Anti-Gay Boy Scout Remarks

Faced with a swift and hard hitting backlash against his statement that the soon defunct Boy Scouts of America policy that barred gay scoutmasters "protected children" - which implied that gays were pedophiles and child molesters - Scott Walker's minions have rushed to do damage control and "clarify" what Walker really meant.  Walker and his handlers obviously think most of us are complete morons because for anyone who saw the video of Walker or read the text of his remarks, it was crystal clear what he meant, and it wasn't what Walker's spin masters are claiming.  Most folks are buying Walker's bull shit excuse/clarification and, if we are lucky, it is only one of many gaffes that Walker will make that show him to be an utter douche bag.  Bottom line, Walker is so full of shit that it's a wonder he hasn't exploded.  Here are highlights from Think Progress on Walker's damage control effort:
The Wisconsin governor declared his entrance into the 2016 race with a promise to be a bold conservative who wins on principle, but on only his third day out he’s already waffling on his commitment to targeting the LGBTQ community for discrimination.

On Tuesday, [Walker] came out in opposition to the Boy Scouts of America’s unanimous decision to overturn its ban on gay troop leaders only one day after announcing his candidacy. One day later, the Republican Wisconsin Governor attempted to walk that position back.

On Wednesday, after widespread media coverage noted Walker’s suggestion that gay adults are child predators, Walker rushed to mitigate the damage, claiming he never meant that the ban protected boy scouts from gay leaders but actually protected the children from the debate Americans who want to discriminate against the LGBTQ community force upon the nation.

[D]uring a press conference in South Carolina today, the New York Times reports that Walker himself attempted to clarify his remarks, saying the ban protected children “from being involved in the very thing you’re talking about right now, the political and media discussion about it, instead of just focusing on what Scouts is about, which is about camping and citizenship and things of that nature.”

When Walker was specifically asked about his comment supporting the ban, explicitly calling out his claim that “it protected children” on Tuesday, Walker doubled down, citing the fact that his mother was a den mother and calling the ban “perfectly fine”

Resistance to Gay Marriage Follows Path of Old Style Racists

Anti-gay Christofascists take huge offense - at least in public - at rightly being compared to the segregationists of the 1950's and 1960's (and beyond) in the manner in which they (i) use cherry picked Bible passages to justify hate and discrimination against others and (ii) are refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges last month.  Frankly, if you engage in the same type of behavior and use the same tired religious claims to justify bigotry, then the comparison is valid.  A piece at ABC News lays out the continued parallels between Christofascists opposition to interracial marriage and same sex marriage.  Here are highlights:
Legal experts suggest that history might hint at how the coming months will unfold, as a handful of defiant clerks across the South and Midwest refuse to abide by the Supreme Court's ruling last month that legalized gay marriage.

The first test is set to begin Monday in a Kentucky courtroom. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who cited her Christian faith on June 30 as she refused to issue marriage licenses to any couple, gay or straight. Other county clerks rallied around her, demanding the government protect Christians from having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The aftermath of the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling Loving v. Virginia played out in similar ways, according to Sam Marcosson, a constitutional law professor at the University of Louisville. Now, once again, scattered patches of resistance will force the courts to intervene.

In 1967, Liane Peters and James Van Hook, turned to the NAACP, which sued the county and won. The couple received a license the following year.

They are still married, 47 years later. Van Hook is 82 and his wife is 76. They have two sons and three grandkids, she said. They still live in a little house with a big yard and garden they bought soon after their wedding.

Interracial couples across the South also had to sue, said Peter Wallenstein, a history professor at Virginia Tech who wrote a book called "Tell the Court I Love my Wife" about race and marriage in the United States. The legal battles dragged on for years.

In 1970, three years after the Supreme Court's decision, an Alabama judge denied a marriage license to a white soldier stationed at Fort McClellan and his African-American fiancee, Wallenstein wrote. The federal government sued to force the county to comply.

The question is how long they can stall and make mischief," said Kenneth D. Upton, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, a law office that specializes in LGBT issues.

Some take offense at the comparison between interracial marriages five decades ago and the religious objections to same-sex marriage that clerks are raising today.

Others scoff at the thought of letting elected officials decline to do part of their job. Marcosson compared the situation to the Catholic Church's refusal to marry people who have been through a divorce. The church and its followers have the religious freedom to decline to recognize those marriages. But a Catholic clerk in public office has no right to deny a civil marriage license to someone who has been divorced, he said.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Poll: Trump Leads GOP Field but Loses Against Clinton

AP Photo
The sad, mindless state of today's GOP is underscored the latest polls that show that Donald Trump is leading in the GOP clown car field of candidates.  So much for a party that once valued reason, knowledge and intellect.  Nowadays, the GOP is synonymous with racism, bigotry, the embrace of ignorance and angry conservative whites who are terrified by what they see is the erosion of their place of privilege.  The good news is that currently, the Donald loses to Hillary Clinton by a wide margin.  Here are highlights from USA Today:

Donald Trump has surged to the top of a crowded Republican presidential field, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, but the brash billionaire is also the weakest competitor among the top seven GOP candidates against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In the nationwide survey, Trump leads at 17% and former Florida governor Jeb Bush is second at 14%, the only competitors who reach double digits. Trump's edge, which is within the poll's margin of error, is one more sign that his ​harsh rhetoric about immigration and toward his rivals has struck a chord with some voters.

"He's got some backbone," Steve Fusaro, 59, of San Clemente, Calif., who was among those polled, said approvingly in a follow-up interview. "We need a businessman."

But Buxton McGuckin, 19, of Columbia, S.C., who supports Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, expresses alarm at the potential repercussions of Trump's words. "I know he's a conservative and Republican but I mean ... the (stuff) that comes out of his mouth," the audio engineer says.

Trump has gained 6 percentage points since the USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll taken in June; Bush's support has stayed steady.

While he leads the GOP field, he fares the worst of seven hopefuls in hypothetical head-to-heads against former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic nominee. Bush, the strongest candidate against Clinton, lags by four points nationwide, 46%-42%. Trump trails by 17 points, 51%-34%.

That's a wider margin than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (down 6 points), former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (8 points), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (9 points), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (10 points) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (13 points).

Scott Walker: Blind Ambition and Little Intellect

All of the occupants of the GOP presidential candidate clown car are, in my view, dangerous to America and average Americans.  The question is, which one poses the gravest danger combined with a possible chance of winning the nomination.  Some of the conservative chattering class like Scott Walker, a man who holds workers in open contempt and has disdain for the minimum wage - any minimum wage - and wants to spread the economic desolation he has brought to many Wisconsin families nationwide.  The many is a study of cold ambition, little or no intellect, and a willingness to resort to demagoguery.   On important issues, he has no solutions or alternate proposals, including the new agreement with Iran which he wants cancelled.  In Walker's ignorance embracing world, war with Iran seemingly is his only acceptable option even though Iraq and Afghanistan are cake walks compared to what Iran would offer in a full fledged war (Iran's far more educated population is 78,192,200 versus Iraq's 36,004,552 - Afghanistan's is 31,822,848 - or more than twice that of countries the USA has been unable to subdue).  Facts, of course, do not matter to Walker and the GOP base.  A column in the New York Times looks at Walker and his frightening aspects.  Here are highlights:
[W]hat I see in him is the kind of soullessness too common in American politicians and the kind of careerism that makes American politics such a dreary spectacle.

I see an ambition even more pronounced than any ideology. I see an interest in personal advancement that eclipses any investment in personal growth.

These are hardly unusual traits in our halls of government. But they’re distilled in Walker, the governor of Wisconsin.
He’s styling himself as a political outsider, but that’s a fluke of geography, not professional history. While it’s true that he hasn’t worked in Washington, he’s a political lifer, with a résumé and worldview that are almost nothing but politics.

He has drawn barbs for the fact that he left Marquette before graduating and was many credits shy of a degree. But I know plenty of people whose intellectual agility and erudition aren’t rooted in the classroom, and his lack of a diploma isn’t what’s troubling.

The priorities that conspired in it are. He was apparently consumed during his sophomore year by a (failed) bid for student body president. According to a story by David Fahrenthold in The Washington Post, he was disengaged from, and cavalier about, the acquisition of knowledge.
When allies and opponents talk about his strengths, they seem to focus not on his passion for governing but on his cunning at getting elected. “He’s a sneaky-smart campaigner, they say, a polished and levelheaded tactician, a master at reading crowds,” . . .  “He learned the value of ignoring uncomfortable questions, rather than answering them.”

He tailors his persona to the race at hand. To win his second term as governor of Wisconsin and thus be able to crow, as he’s doing now, about the triumph of a conservative politician “in a blue state,” he played down his opposition to abortion, signaled resignation to same-sex marriage and explicitly supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

But with his current focus on the Iowa caucuses, he no longer supports a path to citizenship, flaunts his anti-abortion credentials and has called for a constitutional amendment permitting states to outlaw same-sex marriage.
His advisers, meanwhile, trumpet his authenticity. Authenticity? That’s in tragically short supply in the presidential race, a quality that candidates assert less through coherent records, steadfast positions or self-effacing commitments than through what they wear (look, Ma, no jacket or necktie!)  . . .

“I love America,” Walker said in Monday’s big speech. That was his opening line and an echo of what so many contenders say.

I trust that they all do love this country. But from the way they pander, shift shapes and scheme, I wonder if they love themselves just a little more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Scott Walker: Boy Scout Ban on Gays ‘Protected Children’

As NPR and other news outlets are reporting, the executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America has unanimously adopted a resolution that would allow gay adults to serve as Scout leaders, ending a longstanding ban on gay scout leaders in the organization.  A ban that was based on religious inspired bigotry and the lies disseminated by the "godly folk."  The Boy Scout's National Executive Board will meet July 27 to ratify the resolution.  While many view the move as yet another step towards expanded equality and a rejection of religion as a justification fort evil, the Christofascists are acting as if someone did a bowel movement in their Cheerios.  Joining this latter group is GOP presidential candidate Scott Walker who says that the ban "protected children" - a repeat of the Christofascist lie that gays are all would be child molesters and sexual predators.   The Daily Beast looks at Walker's foul anti-gay statements.  Here are excerpts:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has spoken out against the Boy Scouts’ recent decision to lift its ban on gay troop leaders. In an interview with IJReview, Walker cited his support for the “previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values.”

In response to the vote, Walker told IJReview:
“I was an Eagle Scout, my kids have been involved, Tonette (Walker) was a den mother.

“I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values.”
Scott Walker is a despicable asshole.  Even worse than his anti-gay views are his desire to spread the economic poison he has sown in Wisconsin nationwide.   If there is a scandal to be found in Walker's background, I wish it would explode to the surface now.

Republican US Senators Kill Anti-LGBT Bullying Bill

Despite the major triumph the LGBT community experienced in the Obergefell marriage ruling, we sadly remain less than human in the minds of the Christofascists and, as a result, open game for abuse and bullying.  To the "godly folk" the lives of LGBT individuals simply do not matter and since, the Republican Party are the tawdry whores of the Christofascists, are lives and safety mean nothing to the GOP.  This reality was underscored by GOP action in the United States Senate led by Lamar Alexander - a proven douche bag - that killed proposed federal legislation that would have protected LGBT students from discrimination and bullying.  Stated in simple form, Alexander's excuse for killing the bill was a formulation of the "states' rights" bullshit that has been used in the past to justify slavery, then discrimination against blacks under Jim Crow, and now gays.  The New Civil Rights Movement looks at this disappointing anti-gay action.  Here are highlights:
For years, Democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken has been trying to pass a bill to protect LGBT students in public schools from discrimination. And for years the bill, known as the Student Nondiscrimination Act, or SENDA, failed to even get voted out of committee.

The two-term junior Senator from Minnesota tried a different approach, today attaching his legislation to a revision of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Led by GOP Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Republican Senators just voted it down, 52-45. 60 votes were needed to pass.

Franken's legislation had 40 cosponsors, including one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois. Franken knew the vote would be "very close," but hoped for passage.

“Kids have these protections for race, national origin, gender and disability,” Franken told Buzzfeed. “We want to extend to LGBT kids the same right that other kids have.”
Bullying of LGBT students is “becoming an epidemic,” he said, citing three boys who committed suicide after they were being harassed by classmates who believed they were gay. “You can’t learn if you are afraid,” he added.
Franken's legislation is amendment #2093 to S1177, aka the "Every Child Achieves Act of 2015."

The Washington Post reports Senator Alexander "urged his colleagues to vote against the amendment, calling it a federal intrusion into matters best handled at the local level."

Here is a breakdown how voted voted to allow the bullying and abuse of LGBT students to continue:

Here's the list of all U.S. Senators who this afternoon voted to allow our nation's LGBTQ youth to continue to be bullied – these are the NAY's. You'll notice that each NAY is from a Republican Senator, headed by Sen. Alexander:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Capito (R-WV)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Coats (R-IN)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Enzi (R-WY)
Ernst (R-IA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Gardner (R-CO)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Lankford (R-OK)
Lee (R-UT)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Paul (R-KY)
Perdue (R-GA)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rounds (R-SD)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Here's the list of all the US Senators who voted to help protect LGBTQ youth from bullying – these are the YEAs:
Ayotte (R-NH)
Baldwin (D-WI)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hirono (D-HI)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Leahy (D-VT)
Manchin (D-WV)
Markey (D-MA)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Peters (D-MI)
Portman (R-OH)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
I'm sorry, but to my mind, a gay voting Republican is akin to a 1930's German Jew supporting the Nazi party.    Candidly, I hold today's GOP in almost the same level of contempt as I hold for the "godly folk" who use the Bible to justify evil.

Quote of the Day: Paul Krugman on Donald Trump

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman hit the nail on the head when he described why Donald Trump is doing so well in the polls and winning the stone cold hearts of the GOP party base.  Here's it is via The Raw Story:

Economist Paul Krugman offered a blunt assessment of Donald Trump’s appeal to Republican voters in an interview with Bloomberg TV host Joe Weisenthal on Monday. 
“He’s a belligerent, loudmouth racist with not an ounce of compassion for less fortunate people,” Krugman said. “In other words, he’s exactly the kind of person the Republican base consists of and identifies with. It’s clear that the very things that Upper West Side New Yorkers find detestable about him are exactly what endear him to the Republican base, which is basically people who see in him everything — even the big red face and the yelling — that makes him their kind of guy.”

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

Hillary Clinton Offers Her Vision of a "Fairness Economy"

As noted in a prior post, while the Republican 2016 presidential clown car occupants preach an economic/tax plan that will aid the wealthy and vulture capitalists while further harming working Americans, Hillary Clinton has announced her vision for a "fairness economy" where wealth disparities would be less shocking and fewer Americans would be kicked to the gutter by the Republicans and their Christofascist party base.   The New York Times looks at Clinton's proposed economic policy and agenda.  Here are story highlights:
In the most comprehensive policy speech of her presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday presented her vision of a “growth and fairness economy,” an economic agenda intended to lift middle-class wages, expand social services, and increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans to combat a widening gap between rich and poor.

Clinton said “the defining economic challenge of our time” is raising incomes for the vast majority of Americans whose wages have remained virtually stagnant for 15 years as the costs of housing, college, child care and health care have soared.

The widespread feeling that the economic recovery has not benefited large parts of the population has helped frame the 2016 presidential race. But crafting an agenda that addressed income inequality without vilifying the wealthy has been a central challenge of Mrs. Clinton’s early candidacy, and for weeks she pored over policy briefings and academic papers and fielded advice from 200 policy experts who often offered divergent opinions.

Clinton decided to criticize by name three of her potential Republican rivals, adding Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin to the speech in addition to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor. And considerable hand-wringing went into deciding how forcefully to speak about criminalizing financial industry executives before an audience made up largely of her Wall Street donors.

In the end, Mrs. Clinton did forcefully denounce fraud and manipulation of currency in the financial sector and said there could be “no justification or tolerance for this kind of criminal behavior,” language that some of her top Wall Street backers had been told of in advance. But Mrs. Clinton also appealed to the private sector and Wall Street to work with government to help lift middle-class wages through long-term investment in employees rather than short-term focus on quarterly results.

That vision may not appease the restless left of the Democratic Party and it may not assuage concerns among moderates and independents that Mrs. Clinton is a tax-and-spend liberal. But aides said the speech — even with all of the disparate voices that had weighed in to draft it — presented the clearest encapsulation yet of what Mrs. Clinton’s economic doctrine would look like, and the way in which it would be both similar to and distinct from the policies of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and President Obama.

[T]he message she will carry throughout the campaign, rested entirely on what economists refer to as “the great wage slowdown,” a problem that has persisted through recent administrations, both Democratic and Republican. It has only worsened as globalization and new technology put added pressures on middle- and low-income earners, and has been exacerbated by the rising costs of housing, education and retirement.

The problem has led to widespread frustration; two-thirds of Americans said they thought the distribution of money and wealth in this country should be more even, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in late May.

In her speech, Mrs. Clinton blamed Republicans, pointing to Mr. Walker, Mr. Bush and Mr. Rubio, specifically, for “trickle down” policies that “give more wealth to those at the top, by cutting their taxes and letting big corporations write their own rules.”

Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics who has written extensively about inequality and is now an adviser to Mrs. Clinton, said “the speech showed a clear understanding that our economy is not working for most Americans” and that “we need to fundamentally rewrite the rules.”

To that end, Mrs. Clinton called for closing corporate loopholes, eliminating the “carried interest” loophole that allows some financiers to avoid paying millions in income taxes, and expanding the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill.

[S]he stopped short of endorsing policies championed by Mr. Sanders and others in the liberal wing of the party, including breaking up the big banks and a financial transaction tax, or a government fee on the sale or purchase of certain financial assets. 

Clinton did express her concerns about the emergence of a potentially bigger problem, so-called shadow banking, the system of hedge funds and algorithmic traders that has thrived in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis with little to no government regulation. “Too many of our major financial institutions are still too complex and too risky,” Mrs. Clinton said. 

[T]he economic vision Mrs. Clinton presented on Monday placed a strong emphasis on the issues she has long advocated, including helping women in the work force by advancing “fair scheduling, paid leave and earned sick days,” providing better access to early childhood education and addressing rising health care costs.